Mena Suvari was sexually abused and struggled with drug abuse in her past, she reveals in her upcoming book “The Great Peace: A Memoir.”
The 42-year-old “American Beauty” star told People that between the ages of 12 and 20 she “was the victim of repeated sexual abuse,” beginning in sixth grade when she says her older brother’s friend raped her.
“Part of me died that day,” Suvari told People ahead of her memoir’s release later this month. “He used me, had fun with me and then disposed of me. He called me a whore.
“I never got to have a healthy expression of [sex]. My choice was lost. And that, compiled with already not feeling seen and heard, established a concept that I would have of myself. That that was my value.”
The star believed she “allowed” the rape to happen, and a sense of shame began to overwhelm her.
At 17, two years after moving to Hollywood to pursue acting, Suvari entered into a relationship with a boyfriend she calls “Tyler,” whom she said was emotionally and sexually abusive and pressured her to have threesomes. They dated for a tumultuous three years.
“I remember thinking maybe this is how relationships are: the screaming, the name calling, the abuse,” she said. “I felt like I had brought it all on in some way … it was a process of destruction.”
During her teenage years in Hollywood, her life started spiraling into partying and drug use — which she used as a means of coping.
“I turned to any form of self-medicating I could find, just to get by,” she said. “I was just trying to survive.”
But Suvari eventually broke up with Tyler, stopped using drugs, found solace in her acting and turned to therapy.
These days, Suvari is caring for her new son, Christopher, who was born in April 2021, and trying to help others going through their own traumas.
Christopher is the first child for Suvari and her third husband, Mike Hope, following their 2018 wedding.